Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality: Reply to Cutler and Miller

25 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by D. Mark Anderson

D. Mark Anderson

University of Washington - Economics

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This is a rejoinder to a comment written by Cutler and Miller on our recent paper, "Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality" (IZA DP No. 11773), which reanalyzes data used by Cutler and Miller to investigate the determinants of the urban mortality decline from 1900 to 1936. Two main results emerge from our reanalysis of their data: (1) correcting infant mortality counts reduces the estimated effect of filtration on infant mortality by two-thirds, from -43 log points to -13 log points; and (2) using a consistent method of the calculating the total mortality rate shrinks the estimated effect of filtration on total mortality by half, from -16 log points to -8 log points.In this rejoinder, we argue that the much-reduced estimate of the effect of water filtration on infant mortality is a dramatic and surprising departure from the consensus view in the literature. In addition, we show that the estimated effect of water filtration on total mortality is extremely fragile. Evidence of this fragility may also be found in recent work by Catillon, Cutler and Getzen (2018).

Keywords: public health, mortality, chlorination, filtration, pasteurization, sewage

JEL Classification: I15, I18

Suggested Citation

Anderson, D. Mark and Charles, Kerwin Kofi and Rees, Daniel I., Public Health Efforts and the Decline in Urban Mortality: Reply to Cutler and Miller. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12077. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3323192

D. Mark Anderson (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Economics ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(773) 834-8922 (Phone)

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80218
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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